Boucher outduels Brodeur and Devils in game 1

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Even Brian Boucher couldn’t have realistically imagined out performing Martin Brodeur in game one of their series. Well, realistically and literally, he did.

Boucher put up a 23 save performance last night in the Flyers 2-1 defeat over the New Jersey Devils in game one of their quarterfinal series at the Prudential Center.

Boucher halted hall of fame goaltender Brodeur and stifled Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk on numerous occasions.

“He made some unbelievable stops in the first period,” said Chris Pronger. “We didn’t come out the way we wanted to. Some big stops from him, a couple point-blankers that he sucked in and didn’t allow any rebounds, which was key.”

Boucher had help from the Flyers penalty kill units. They held the Devils to zero goals in five opportunities. Including a four-minute double minor penalty on Oskars Bartulis in the third period. That specific kill was definitely the difference maker of the game.

“Pressure those guys,” Laperriere said. “Any skill player out there, you got to cut down their time with the puck. That’s the way you got to kill. Four minutes? It was an accident, but we have to be smarter.”

The Flyers struck first when Pronger, who rarely joins the slot, tipped in a rebound off a Mike Richards side angle wrist-shot at 9:25 of the second period. The goal broke the scoreless tie and gave the Flyers extra incentive to continue their tight defensive play.

“G [Claude Giroux] was up high with Kimmo [Timonen] and that allows me to freelance down the back door,” Pronger explained. “Richie just threw it into traffic which you need to do.”

After Pronger’s goal the devils began to pressure Boucher and take more shots, but Boucher was up for the challenge and kept it 1-0 Flyers. Ian Laperierre and captain Mike Richards had other plans.

Late in the second, Laperierre skated up into the Devils zone and somehow saw Richards coming up towards the blue line. Lappy slipped a behind-the-back pass to a wide open Richards who blasted a cannon like slap shot over Brodeur’s glove. All of sudden it was 2-0.

“Lappy’s pass was right on my tape so it gave me a little bit of time to kind of think about what I needed to do,” Richards said. “I just looked up and put the puck on the net.”

After a lackluster first period, the Flyers came out and scored twice on eight shots in the second period.

“We needed a wake-up call, we were turning the puck over too much,” Pronger said about the talk between Laviolette and the players. “We just talked. It wasn’t the style we were playing the last six games … We need to change the way we approached the second and third period.”

Boucher lost his shutout with just under three minutes to play in the final frame when Travis Zajac took a shot from the point that beat a screened Boucher. Patrick Elias was robbed with just seconds to play when Boucher made sprawling save to secure the win.

“Brian’s been really sharp down the stretch,” said Peter Laviolette of Boucher. “We’ve played pretty good hockey in front of him, but as always, it comes down to the goaltender making saves.

The Flyers should carry all the momentum of this road win into Friday nights Game 2. Of course, the Flyers would like to score more goals to ease the pressure off of Boucher, but they have to find a way to produce more on both the power play and even strength.

Finally, for tomorrow’s game, the Flyers’ big guns have to show up again. Richards and Pronger came through and accounted for both Flyers goals. Now, guys like Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, and Simon Gagne have to create scoring chances in order to rip through the Devils once again.

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